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Land Use 101

Land Development
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Contact: Nicholas Julian
(202) 266-8309

The land development process has become increasingly complex and time-consuming over the years as developers are asked to satisfy a growing list of public objectives. While “all land use is still local,” there are more regulatory agencies involved at all levels of government than ever before.

The federal government is now heavily influencing local land development approvals through an expanding array of environmental regulations and new grant programs that encourage local governments to reform local land-use plans and policies. The building industry needs to get involved early in such reform efforts to ensure that its perspective and experience are represented, and that proposed new policies are based in evidence, not just theory.

NAHB has developed Land Use 101 to better equip members and HBAs to effectively engage in these efforts as the pace of development picks back up with the best available resources from NAHB. It includes a series of MS PowerPoint presentations, with talking points in the notes page for each slide, which members and HBA staff can tailor for presentations in local and regional forums. When you download these slides, we encourage users to add slides containing local examples and data wherever possible to make the connection to local issues and debates.

Land Use 101 also includes NAHB briefing papers, credentialed research reports and other resources that support the advocacy logic used in the presentations. We also recommend that you print out all MS PowerPoint presentations using the “Notes” setting under “Print” function to have as talking points for presenting the PowerPoint slides.

Orientation to the Land Development Process

  • Document

    Land Development Checklist

    This checklist outlines the typical process developers should go through, from looking at a property prior to purchase to evaluating the site potential, obtaining development approvals, and preparing finished lots for sale to builders.

Land Use Policy Resolution Full text of the resolution, adopted April 23, 2010
Structural Inequities in Land Use and Housing NAHB supports a development environment that promotes all types of housing available to all people at all income levels. 
Inclusionary Zoning Calculator Tool Determine the effects of inclusionary zoning on the pro forma of a development using NAHB's tool.
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Regulatory Barriers

Lengthy and complicated review processes related to land development represent an especially difficult challenge for affordably priced housing.

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State and Local Housing Affordability

Planners, policymakers and elected officials need to explore the issues involved in building a greater range of housing types.

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Infrastructure Finance and Development Fees

How to incentivize desired new projects and finance needed infrastructure as effectively, reliably and efficiently as possible.

Community Planning and Design

Innovative and well-thought out planning and design are critical to land use and development.

Learn more